Have you ever been asked if you’d like whisky in your coffee for breakfast? Seen a missing poster for a unicorn? Ever heard the story of how New York was built because of the Irish people’s fondness of drinking? (Roads had to be built between each pub you know…) No? Then you haven’t been to Dublin.
I discovered this beautiful city recently during my first ever visit to the Irish capital. My two-day stay was long enough for me to decide that it is one of my favourite cities. Its culture, scenery, atmosphere and people are unparalleled elsewhere in the world. The wicked sense of humour of the locals and their relaxed outlook on life immediately made me feel at home in a land that was not my own.
It was such a strange but invigorating experience to find that even amongst the array of unfamiliar faces, there was a strong sense of community between strangers. I was happy to roam the streets aimlessly for hours, just taking in the sights and the energy of the city; browsing in the overpriced shops of Grafton and Henry Street, wandering the grounds of Trinity College, avoiding the many petitioners targeting tourists (No I do not have £10 a week to spare to save the pandas. I’M A STUDENT), talking to a multitude of Americans who’d come back to ‘their Irish roots’, and taking in the fresh air whilst watching the locals go about their daily lives.
I was then lucky enough to visit Dublin Castle and amble around the grounds where famous personalities such as Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II had walked before me. The castle has been restored to its original glory, and is well maintained, making it a fantastically eerie sight. The décor resembles that of the period in which Jonathan Swift was inspired to write Gulliver’s Travels, other sections signifying the reign of Queen Victoria, and some chambers symbolising the iconic year of 1922, when Ireland was granted independent rule from Britain.
The Guinness factory was another stop along my Irish travels. Throughout the day I learned all about its history, for example the factory was leased to Arthur Guinness in 1759 for 9000 years! I studied how the beer is advertised, and of course how best to pour and drink a pint!
As I wandered around the factory, I was amused by a man who kept inexplicably photographing a stuffed animal giraffe at every stage of the brewing process, and I was silently smug as I watched fellow tourists fork out thirty euros for a Guinness t shirt when I’d bought mine from a little side street for ten. The Gravity Bar was definitely the highlight of the tour as it covers the entire top floor of the factory and boasts a 360 degree view of Dublin – definitely a great place to enjoy your free pint of Guinness.
With a stomach full of the black stuff I made my way to Dublin Zoo which is located within the angelic Phoenix Park – which is three times the size of Central Park, NYC! One of the iconic MGM Lions derived from this particular zoo, which helped it become Ireland’s most popular family visitor’s attraction. Also situated within Phoenix Park’s grounds is the President’s house, which holds an uncanny resemblance to the humble abode of Mr Obama, and was also the residing place of Ireland’s first female President between 1997 ad 2002.
I later passed the dwelling place of literary legend Oscar Wilde. It was amazing to think that I could have stood where he was once inspired to write ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’ or that I could have walked where Dorian Gray evolved into more than a figment of Wilde’s imagination.
That evening, enriched with the cultural knowledge I’d acquired that day, I spent the evening in a very Irish pub that was bustling with very Irish energy. It was a Monday night, and what appeared to be a small family run pub was sheltering every Patrick and Eoghan in all of Dublin! People from all nationalities had congregated to enjoy the live Irish folk music and river dancing, and every one of these people was singing along to the surprisingly catchy old-school folk tunes. This was an example of the feel-good factor at its finest!
So if you fancy the sound of great scenery, an electric atmosphere, good music, and even better beer, Dublin is most definitely the place for you. Cheers to the Irish.